Diseases, Skin Problem Resources

Sebaceous Adenitis in Dogs

Not all skin problems in dogs are due to allergies, mites or other environmental factors. Genetics can also play a role in your dog’s skin condition.

What is Sebaceous Adenitis in Dogs

Sebaceous adenitis (SA) in dogs is a hereditary skin disease in which the sebaceous glands of the skin surface become inflamed, often leading to progressive loss of hair, dandruff, odor, and infections. The disease is primarily seen in Standard Poodles, Akitas, and Samoyeds, although there have been reported cases in other breeds and mixed breeds as well.

Canine sebaceous adenitis can develop at any age, with age of onset documented as early as one year and as late as 12 years. Males and females appear to be affected equally and the exact mode of inheritance is unknown.

Sebaceous Adenitis Symptoms

Sebaceous adenitis is rare and can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms vary by breed. It can look like hypothyroidism, allergies, parasites such as Demodex, and other hormonal disorders, and can vary greatly in its severity. At this time, there is no DNA test available to detect sebaceous adenitis. Currently, diagnosis is based on skin biopsy samples performed by a veterinarian. In some dogs, the current screening method may result in false negatives. Because the age of onset varies, and since this is only a phenotypic test reflecting a point in time, retesting is recommended every one to two years for dogs used in breeding programs. A skin biopsy to provide a definitive diagnosis is essential so an effective treatment plan can be developed.

Sebaceous Adenitis in Dogs Treatment

For dogs that do test positive, treatment for sebaceous adenitis is complicated. Dogs with this disorder may have continuous skin problems or they may have symptoms intermittently. Unfortunately, there is no one treatment option that is effective for all dogs with sebaceous adenitis. Most dogs need a combination of topical and oral therapy to achieve control. The degree of improvement seen in the first few months of treatment may be predictive of the long-term effectiveness of the chosen therapy.

Topical therapy may include baths, shampoos, sprays, rinses, and soaks. Oral therapy may include supplements of essential fatty acids, cyclosporine (prescription), and synthetic retinoids (Vitamin A prescription product). Steroids such as prednisone should be avoided as they frequently do not improve the disorder.

It is best to talk with your veterinarian about what treatment might work best for your dog. For more questions on canine sebaceous adenitis, call a Revival Pet Care Pro at 800.786.4751.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.